I was asked by one of the industry publications to be one of their “year-end pundits.” I’d never been called a pundit before so I said yes. Here’s what I vaguely mumbled in answer to their questions (you can also read it in its published form here).
Jason Oke, who recently left Leo Burnett to become director of strategic planning at the new Juniper Park agency, is Media in Canada’s final year-end pundit for ’07. A few more will share their views early in the new year.
MiC: What happened in ’07 that you applaud?
“Watching marketers and agencies find the courage to try new stuff.”
MiC: What happened this year that worried you?
“Watching marketers and agencies try new stuff without thinking. Trying a new approach doesn’t work if you don’t carefully assess why you’re doing it and how it’s supposed to work. Is it just me, or are we all starting to recommend flash-heavy websites, ‘viral’ campaigns, guerrilla stunts and brand communities about as blindly as we’d been recommending TV ads until recently? Replacing one knee-jerk reaction with another isn’t helping anyone.”
MiC: What trends or issues are you spying for ’08?
“Everyone talks about how marketing spending is moving from ‘traditional’ into digital or social networking or whatever, but the bigger story for me is that marketing money is moving out of ‘marketing’ altogether. I see smart marketers spending more of their marketing dollars on product management, experience design and customer satisfaction. In an era of people having conversations, if you make sure your product is great and has an interesting story, then so much of the marketing takes care of itself.”
MiC: What do you see as the next big opportunity?
“Design playing a bigger role in communication. Design isn’t about pretty art direction, it’s a discipline of looking for ways to solve problems and make people’s lives better in some way. Marketing has lost that discipline – most marketing creates problems rather than solving them. But most of today’s great brands have design principles and a problem-solving bent at their core.”
MiC: What’s the next looming threat?
“Market research getting in the way of progress. In an era of massive change, more than ever we need to be grounded in an understanding of people’s behaviours and needs. But the industry is waking up to the fact that a lot of market research is based on faulty assumptions, has not kept up with cultural change or scientific learning about how the brain works and is actually hindering success. It’s not the fault of researchers – most companies use market research poorly and don’t ask for innovation in research.